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dawson leedahl regina pats

Jeff Gorton’s raid of undrafted free agents continues. This time, he nabbed Regina Pats leading scorer Dawson Leedahl. The 21-year-old LW finished with a line of 35-54-89 in 71 games this season, almost triple his output from last season. He also put up 11-12-23 in 19 playoff games, with his Pats vying for the WHL Championship. He isn’t just a scorer, as Leedahl succeeded with Everett’s defense first system, becoming caption, before his trade to start the season.

Leedahl is a little bit of everything. He scores, plays in all three zones, hits, and leads by example. A good comparison would be Ryan Callahan, but dialing back the expectations a bit. His style is similar, but the Rangers would be lucky to get a huge contributor like that. Regardless, Leedahl adds much needed scoring and physical punch to a Hartford lineup that desperately needs it.

Leedahl certainly needs a few seasons in the AHL before he has a realistic chance of cracking the Rangers roster.

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neal pionk

Photo: Getty

Per Elliotte Friedman, the Rangers have made a big splash in the undrafted free agent market. They have signed defenseman Neal Pionk of Minnesota-Duluth to en entry level deal, a much sought after UDFA. Josh profiled him last month, and that’s definitely worth the read. For the cliff notes version: Pionk is a right handed puck moving defenseman that put up 34 (7-27-34) points in 42 games as one of the NCAA’s top scoring defensemen. He was also a second team All Star.

Pionk, at 6’0 and 190 lbs, plays with a bit of a mean streak as well. While his joy for laying people out with open ice hits can cause him to be out of position from time to time, Pionk is a three-zone defenseman who piqued the interest of most of the league. He will need some seasoning, having just completed his sophomore season, but this is a big time win for the Rangers in landing him.

I’m going to open up a can of worms here, but between Alexei Bereglazov, Radim Simek, and now Pionk, there’s some change coming to the Rangers’ blue line.

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Rangers recall forward Taylor Beck

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taylor beck

The Rangers have recalled forward Taylor Beck from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Beck has a line of 19-44-63 in 54 AHL games with Hartford and the Bakersfield Condors this season. The Rangers acquired Beck from Edmonton in exchange for Justin Fontaine at the trade deadline. He’s been close to a point-per-game with the Pack (6-7-13) since his acquisition.

The call up of Beck means the Rangers are likely resting more players this weekend. He’s also likely the first of many to be called up to serve as the “taxi squad” during the playoffs.

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vince pedrie

Photo by Mark Selders

Per TDC Men’s Hockey, the Rangers have signed undrafted free agent defenseman Vince Pedrie to a two-year entry level deal. TDC, citing Pedrie’s Facebook page, noted that Pedrie had two years of NCAA eligibility left, so this is a little bit of a steal for the Rangers and Hartford Wolf Pack.

In his second year at Penn State, Pedire put up a line of 8-22-30 in 38 games, which was an eight point improvement on his 8-14-22 line in his freshman year. Pedrie was instrumental in helping Penn State, which did not even have a D1 hockey team five years ago, win the Big Ten title this year.

Pedrie’s ELC begins next year, and he will likely report to Hartford on an ATO for the remainder of this season. With Vinni Lettieri in the fold, the turnover on the awful Wolf Pack team has begun.

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vinni lettieri

The Rangers have signed undrafted free agent forward Vinni Lettieri of the University of Minnesota to an entry-level contract. Lettieri, a right-handed shot, put up 19-18-37 in 38 games with Minnesota this year. The 5’10”, 197 lb forward will report to Hartford on an ATO for the remainder of the year. The first year of his deal kicks off next season.

Lettieri has a lot of connections with the Rangers. He attended Rangers prospect camp in 2014 and 2015. He was teammates with Brady Skjei. Skjei and Derek Stepan helped to recruit him.

As for the skill set, he’s a wing/center that has a scoring touch. He’s unlikely to make an NHL impact in the near future, but is a heady player with tools. He’s the kind of guy the Rangers like to go after. At the worst, he’s someone who can help stabilize the god-awful Hartford Wolf Pack squad.

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chris nell

The Rangers have signed their first undrafted free agent, agreeing to terms with goaltender Chris Nell. Nell, 22, played at Bowling Green Statue and posted a .916 SV% this year with a 17-14-2 record. Nell’s numbers are actually very solid. Nell could be another solid find in non-traditional college markets, with Cam Talbot (Alabama-Huntsville) being the first. One thing we do know, the Rangers are stacked with goalie prospects.

Also, the Rangers returned Magnus Hellberg to Hartford. News already broke that Henrik Lundqvist will travel on the California trip. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

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Gettinger (Photo: Adam Bell, OHL)

A little late on this stuff, but better late than never. The Rangers signed 2016 5th rounder Tim Gettinger to an entry level contract yesterday. Gettinger has a line of 30-22-52 in 60 games this year. That is close to double his goal total from last year (17-22-39).

Also with Jesper Fast returning from injury, Pavel Buchnevich will be the healthy scratch. Tanner Glass will remain in the lineup at the expense of a promising kid’s development.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Rangers recall Magnus Hellberg

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magbus hellberg

The Rangers have recalled goalie Magnus Hellberg from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Hellberg was sent to Hartford earlier in the week while the Rangers had three days off. The Wolf Pack didn’t have any games either, so it wasn’t like he was seeing game action.

My only guess is that these were paperwork moves. I don’t really know the conditions of emergency call ups. I could be that he had to be returned or else he would no longer be an emergency call up? I don’t know. But he’s back.

Hellberg will likely be Raanta’s backup for the weekend back-to-back.

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Magnus Hellberg

The Rangers have returned Magnus Hellberg to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Hellberg was an emergency recall to back up Antti Raanta while Henrik Lundqvist was out. Hellberg has not appeared in a game since his recall.

The Rangers have three days off before their next set of back-to-backs on Friday (Florida) and Saturday (@ Minnesota). Considering the Pack don’t have any games until Friday, this leads me to believe that Lundqvist will be good to go by the Friday contest.

Then again, I don’t really understand the rules of the emergency call up. There is a time limit, so perhaps this circumvents that? Emergency call ups and entry level slides are two pieces that I still can’t figure out.

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sean day

The Rangers have signed their first 2016 draftee, coming to terms with third rounder Sean Day on a three-year entry-level contract. Day is a big kid at 6’2″, 224 lbs. But don’t let his size fool you, Day is one of the best skaters in the draft and is a potential home run pick for the Rangers. Day’s a very good puck mover, and as mentioned a great skater with huge potential.

Day slid at the draft because of compete level issues, something a lot of kids go through. But he’s rebounded in a big way this year. He set a career high in goals in the OHL this year, and has a line of 14-17-31 through 57 games. That’s a huge improvement on his draft year numbers of 6-16-22 in 57 games.

Day has huge potential, and could be an impact defenseman for the Rangers in the near future.

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